ABCRA Summer 2023 Newsletter

Welcome to ABCRA’s summer 2023 newsletter. In this edition, we share with you news from our neighbourhood and upcoming community events, including ABCRA’s 65th Anniversary celebrations in Ramsden Park on Sunday, June 25.

For nearly seven decades, our volunteer board and street representatives have been working hard to make improvements

to our neighbourhood and to influence planning decisions appropriate for our area. We are proud of our 65 years of neighbourhood engagement and advocacy, and we invite all community members to learn more about our history and to join us in our celebration.

A Message from ABCRA’S Board

Dear Residents,

65 years ago, ABCRA was founded by area residents seek- ing to enhance and protect the fabric of our neighbourhoods and, in particular, to oppose the expressways (Spadina and Crosstown) which would have literally gutted our community. Imagine an expressway running between Dupont and Davenport, through Ramsden Park and down into Rosedale Valley to connect with the Don Valley Parkway. Without the prescient leadership of individuals such as Ingeborg Fogelberg, Jack Granatstein, Barton Meyers and of course, Jane Jacobs, this then fashionable idea of ‘progress’ would have become a reality.

Today, the “15-minute neighbourhood” has become another idea espoused by urbanists to mitigate carbon consumption and to propagate healthy living by making life more livable for residents, improving air quality and making neighbourhoods safer, quieter, more diverse, inclusive and economically vibrant. These are admirable objectives, but the ABC community has been a vibrant “15-min- ute neighbourhood” for generations with its access to the unique shops of Yonge Street, Davenport and Avenue Roads, and Yorkville; its parks and parkettes; its skating rinks, schools and playgrounds; and the ready access to public transit, including two subway lines.

We have to question, however, how it is that the new generation of urbanists and planners have concluded that the survivability of neighbourhoods such as ours can only be ensured by destroying character and human scale and replacing it with an endless and tiresome march of expensive condo towers? It’s a conceit. Intensification has a place in our community, but it takes tremendous effort to get it right — a lot more than a pithy tag line.

In the coming months we will report more on the challenges we face, and on specific development applications both good and bad, but today, we want to celebrate some very big successes we have achieved for our public realm, including:

  • The extension of Village of Yorkville Park from Bellair Street to Bay Street, slated to commence in 2026. Former Councillor Mike Layton deserves a special shout-out for his support.
  • The creation of a Ramsden Park Gateway encompassing 207–211 Avenue Road made possible by the settlement of the “Staples” development application on Yonge Street at Marlborough, and the Tribute development at Avenue Road and Davenport, the latter through the leadership of Councillor Dianne Saxe.
  • York Square now under construction at Yorkville and Avenue Road.
  • Our vision to create two new parkettes on the northeast and southeast corners of Yonge Street and Church Street to complement Frank Stollery Parkette, creating a visual link to Harold Town Park and Rosedale Valley.
  • An upcoming revitalization of the Jesse Ketchum Public School playing field, including a new track funded by ABCRA.

There is much to celebrate, and we hope to see you Sunday at Ramsden Park!

Sincerely, your ABCRA Board of Directors

P.S. Read more about ABCRA’s history, and learn about “the park that built a community.”

Get to Know Us: Spotlight on ABC Board

Member Mary-Helen Spence

Q How long have you lived here and what’s your favourite thing about our neighbourhood?

A I moved to this area in the 1980s to give my daughters the opportunity to live in a vibrant and diverse city and community, and it’s been great. I love being able to walk to all the shops and services I use daily, and I enjoy the cultural venues like the ROM. It’s a wonderful neighbourhood.

Q Why did you join the ABCRA board?

A I have a background as a municipal councillor, I know about community planning, and I’m a committed environmentalist. With all the changes taking place in our neighbourhood, I wanted to contribute my experience to what ABCRA is trying to achieve. We’re influencing responsible development decisions that matter and that have an impact today and for generations to come. That’s very gratifying for me.

Q What challenges do we face?

A This neighbourhood is surrounded or crossed by five arterial roads, so we need to find better ways to make our streets safer for everyone, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike. Also, our tree canopy that is so integral to the character of our neighbourhood is in decline. We need trees for shade in the summer, to clean our air, and, especially in the downtown, just to enjoy. To address these challenges, ABCRA is constantly advocating for improvements to our public realm, be it the widening of sidewalks along Avenue Road, creating new green spaces in our neighbourhood or encouraging tree-planting in front of new developments.

Q: Any thoughts on ABCRA’s 65 years of community engagement?

A So much has been accomplished by our hard-working and committed volunteers, but it’s often frustrating work when we’re faced with developers focused on maximizing profits and city staff who are resource constrained. We have wins and we have losses, but there is no doubt in my mind that we have prevented some of what we see at Yonge and Eglinton from being the future of Yorkville and have thus contributed to the livability of our neighbourhood.

Q Anything else our readers might like to know?

A I want to encourage everyone to vote in the mayoral election and to get involved where they can. Democracy can be hard work, but it’s worth it. Writing letters and making calls to politicians to tell them that we expect better so we can build a great city for all is more important than ever.

Please lend your time and skills and get involved with ABCRA and our community initiatives so that we can amplify the power of our collective voice. In the words of Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Enhancing Community Safety

If you’ve seen neon-vested teams walking the streets of Yorkville recently and wondered who they are, they’re part of Community One Response, a pilot program implemented by the Bloor-Yorkville BIA to address community safety.

Team members are trained in de-escalating situations that can arise with homeless people who may be in crisis. Everyone, including the homeless, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. However, it is often a challenge to know what to do when erratic and irrational behaviour makes it difficult to engage appropriately.

For these situations, staff at the Church of the Redeemer’s Common Table drop-in program recommend contacting the outreach team at Streets to Home by calling 416-397-5182. Or you can contact The Common Table Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 416-807-3084. Read more about The Common Table Drop-In Program.

In light of increased overall levels of crime in our neighbourhood that include break-ins, car thefts, vandalism, and verbal and physical assaults, ABCRA, together with the BIA and the Greater Yorkville Resident’s Association (GYRA), has asked 53 Division to create a permanent Crisis Response Unit with dedicated officers available for our community. We will keep you posted on further developments regarding this request.

Investing in Our Schools

On June 21, ABCRA board members attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Jesse Ketchum Public School to celebrate the $1.5 million refurbishment of the school’s gym and cafeteria.

ABCRA worked closely with developers Minto Communities and Kingsett to secure the funding for the much-needed upgrade. A new running track on the school playing field is next on the agenda. Several classes of students joined in the celebration, cheering for the new gym and the track to come. 

Toronto International Jazz Festival 

It’s that time of year again that jazz lovers from all over look forward to. For the past six years, the Toronto International Jazz Festival has been headquartered in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood and this year is taking place June 23–July 2. Now in its 37th year, the jazz festival has been a favourite summertime event since 1987 and has contributed over $580 million to the GTA economy. ABCRA is a proud sponsor, and we have made a $25,000 donation in support of the festival’s emerging artists program through our Yorkville Community Cultural Fund. For full program details including free and ticketed events, please visit

Enriching Our Cultural Programming

We are also excited to share that Nightwood Theatre and Tapestry Opera will soon be making their new home at 877 Yonge Street. Supported by Section 37 Community Benefits Charges funds, both organizations will be converting a previous meeting space in the former Fellowship Towers into a new theatre.

To build this new facility for the performing arts, they have mounted a capital campaign. ABCRA is leading a $250,000 fundraiser with a matching donation up to $25,000. Anyone wishing to support this initiative in our community, can make a donation

Beautifying Our Neighbourhood 

ABCRA takes an active role in maintaining our parks and green spaces. For example, we hire crews to clean, weed, and water Jesse Ketchum Park and the Hillsboro Avenue median during the summer months when the City cannot due to budgetary constraints. ABCRA also worked hard to have the hydro box, a.k.a. “the bunker,” in Jay Macpherson Green moved to a less obtrusive spot in the park, creating a more welcoming and open natural environment. 

We rely on dedicated volunteers to help keep our public spaces beautiful. A big shout out to Tracy Warne, long-time Roxborough Avenue resident and ABCRA street representative, who for several years has been taking care of the garden at the Roxborough stairs entrance to Ramsden Park by planting bushes and annuals at his own expense.

Recently, ABCRA paid for fencing for the garden to help keep out the dog population that found it attractive as a relief station. The fence is working well so far. 

Mayoral Election 

Torontonians go to the polls on June 26 to elect a new mayor. Decisions made at the municipal level of government most directly affect the day-to-day lives of our families and community, but only 29% of voters turned out for our municipal elections last October. We encourage all eligible voters to cast their ballots on election day. For a list of our neighbourhood polling stations click here. 

ABCRA’s 65th Anniversary Celebration 

We invite all ABC community members to join us in our 65th anniversary celebration in Ramsden Park on Sunday, June 25, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. We will be located in the upper part of the park near the playground (closest access from Yonge Street is via Gibson Avenue). Stop by before the Pride Parade to meet your ABCRA board members, street representatives, and ABC neighbours and enjoy a sweet or savoury treat on us. 

Share via
Copy link